#28A

 

“The protections of the First Amendment that apply to the spending of money on lobbying and elections, whether by contributions, expenditures or otherwise, shall extend only to human beings.”

Corporate money has corrupted our Democracy

Exhibit A is our depressed economy: between 1998 and 2008, Wall Street investment firms, commercial banks, hedge funds, real estate companies and insurance conglomerates made $1.725 billion in political contributions to elected officials of both parties in Washington, D.C., and spent another $3.4 billion on lobbyists. This overwhelming financial juggernaut was aimed at eliminating federal regulation of the financial industry – laws that had been in place since the Great Depression to prevent speculation, abusive lending practices and banks becoming “too big to fail.”

It worked. As we explain in “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America,” the financial industry got what it wanted from Washington. Then, when the industry collapsed, driving the American economy into a ditch, Wall Street ran back to Washington. Hundreds of firms got bailouts that grew to trillions of dollars, paid for by – who else -  American taxpayers.

The rest of us got nothing. No help for our mortgages, our credit cards, our college loans. One out of ten Americans can’t find a job. One of four American families have lived in poverty over the last few years. People have lost their homes, their life savings, their health, their pride and their confidence. Meanwhile, the Wall Street CEOs whose jobs we rescued are making more money than ever before. Our elected officials don’t pay attention to regular Americans because we don’t supply them with the money they need to get elected.

In politics, money has truly become the root of all evil

There have been many attempts to limit the ability of corporations to empty their treasuries on behalf of candidates and causes who will contribute to their bottom line. Indeed, after every national scandal, public outrage has forced lawmakers to impose restrictions on corporate donations and lobbying. But a series of court decisions gradually whittled away those laws on the ground that spending money on lobbyists and elections is exercising “freedom of speech” and therefore protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The final blow to our democracy came in 2010, when the United States Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as human beings under the First Amendment. The infamous case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ignited a firestorm of criticism.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the right of corporations to spend money to influence elections, even covertly, and to give money and gifts to politicians for the purpose of influencing their votes, is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be limited or regulated.

The Supreme Court’s decision has unleashed a tidal wave of corporate money, often undisclosed, into our elections, one that has drowned out the voices of average Americans and turned our country into an aristocracy in which the People are taxed for the benefit of the powerful elites that run Wall Street and Washington.

All Americans – no matter what your political beliefs – will lose if this Supreme Court decision stands. Our own freedom of speech under the First Amendment is negated when corporations with vastly greater resources start exercising their “freedom of speech.”

The only way to stop this nightmare and restore the rights of Americans is to pass a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 

Here’s the Amendment we propose:

“The protections of the First Amendment that apply to the spending of money on lobbying and elections, whether by contributions, expenditures or otherwise, shall extend only to human beings.”

 

We need your help to change the Constitution

Click Here to sign our Petition

By design, amending the Constitution isn’t easy: two-thirds of both houses of Congress must vote to propose the amendment, and three quarters of state legislatures must pass it. (Or, if two-thirds of the state legislatures request it, Congress must convene a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of proposing an amendment, and three quarters of state legislatures must ratify it.)

Either way, it all depends on citizens demanding that their elected representatives propose and pass the 28th Amendment.

Americans disagree on many things, but all are fed up with politicians who are beholden to powerful special interests while betraying their oaths of office.

Please join us by signing the petition to get this Constitutional Debate started where you live. It’s a matter of survival for America.

Learn more about the Supreme Court decision, what’s at stake, and how you can help:

What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, sponsored by John McCain (R) and Russel Feingold (D), was passed by Congress in 2002 in the aftermath of scandals involving corporate spending – often concealed – to influence federal elections. The McCain-Feingold law closed loopholes in the federal laws that limited how corporations (including unions and non-profit corporations) can spend money to support or oppose candidates.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a non-profit corporation with corporate ties challenged the McCain-Feingold restrictions as unconstitutionally infringing upon its First Amendment rights.

In a sharply divided 5 to 4 vote, in 2010 the Supreme Court agreed, and invalidated provisions of the law. The majority wrote: “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

This wasn’t the first Supreme Court ruling that equated freedom of speech with money, or corporations with human beings. But the Citizens United decision struck down previous precedents of the Supreme Court itself that had allowed some reasonable limits on corporate meddling with free elections.

You can read the Citizen’s United decision here.

Why the Supreme Court’s decision is wrong

When they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Founders never intended to give corporations the same rights as human beings. At that time, corporations were only allowed to operate with the permission of the state. The same is true today. Nothing in the Constitution or the First Amendment refers to corporations.

The Founders had learned a hard lesson when settlers fled to the New World to escape the tyranny of the monarchy in England. Their greatest concern was creating a political system in which there were checks and balances upon American government that would protect the liberty of its citizens. The last thing the Founders would have wanted was to permit corporations to seize control of democracy and create a new form of tyranny over Americans.

Why the Supreme Court decision is bad for America

The Citizen United decision allows corporations to deploy potentially unlimited amounts of money to decide who gets elected and what our public officials do when they get elected. Urgently needed legislation is defeated by corporate lobbyists and their lackeys in state and federal governments, while measures that benefit corporations and their powerful leaders, like tax breaks, are paid for by everyone else.

How the US Constitution is amended

  • The Founders deliberately did not make it easy to amend the Constitution.
  • Two-thirds of both houses of Congress must vote to propose the amendment, and then three quarters of state legislatures must ratify (pass) it.
  • Alternatively, if two-thirds of the state legislatures request it, Congress must convene a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of proposing an amendment, and three quarters of state legislatures must ratify it. This approach has never been utilized.

There have been 27 amendments to the Constitution, including the first ten, which are known as the Bill of Rights and were intended to protect Americans’ freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and association, as well as the right to keep and bear arms. They took effect in 1791.

The last Amendment to be ratified, in 1992, prevents any law that addresses the compensation of members of Congress from taking effect until after the next congressional election.

It can take years to ratify a constitutional amendment

Information about the proposed 28th Amendment

Our proposal is simple and straightforward.

Only human beings can exercise the right to spend money in elections.

 

How we pass the 28th Amendment 

  • The need for the 28th Amendment is self-evident. It transcends any one cause or ideological viewpoint. Americans who might disagree vehemently with each other on public policy all recognize that none of their views will be heard if they are drowned out by corporate money.
  • That’s why we think support for the 28th Amendment will be strong and that many Americans will want to discuss it with their elected officials and those who are running for office. Once the proposal becomes part of the debate in this country, the path to passage will become assured.

Opposition to the 28th Amendment.

  • Make no mistake: The same corporations that have seized control of our democracy are going to do everything they can to fight the 28th Amendment.
  • They stand to lose their power and influence to regular Americans.
  • By spending hundreds of millions to lobby against the Amendment and elect legislators who will oppose it, the corporations will demonstrate exactly why the Amendment is necessary in the first place.

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 Posted by at 9:39 am